“It’s about fun; it’s about the moment,” said Coyle Girelli of his sophomore solo album, “Funland”. “An escape into a night of debauchery, lust, or whatever you want to find in the night.”
Released on February 25, Funland follows the multi-instrumentalist English songwriter’s 2018 debut, “Love Kills, which Atwood Magazine dubbed “A beautifully dark masterpiece.” This new, self-produced collection finds Girelli emerging from that daydream of a record into the isolating reality of the early pandemic.
Holed-up in rural Vermont and missing his adopted New York City, he responded with a reflective, utterly romantic, and relentlessly melodic record. Funland infuses Girelli’s passion for the dramatic love songs of Roy Orbison and Elvis Presley with a contemporary energy, cultured arrangements, and his singularly emotive voice.
“Before I even realized I was writing an album, I was halfway through writing an album,” he recalled. “Just in a room, drinking wine, and writing music to kind of get through what was going on.”
Growing up in a small English market town, Girelli can barely remember a time when he wasn’t writing songs. Initially shaped by his parents’ love of 1960s music, the tunes he’d always hummed or written in his head became a conscious, hands-on obsession when Nirvana and Britpop reinvigorated guitar-based music in the early ‘90s.
Girelli’s songwriting and supple vocals propelled his alternative rock band Your Vegas, and its later incarnation The Chevin, to major record deals first in the UK then in the US and onto extensive tours with the likes of Duran Duran and Franz Ferdinand. After a stunning performance with The Chevin on The Late Show, host David Letterman exclaimed, “If I had a voice like that, I’d run for President!”
As a songwriter, Girelli has collaborated with a diverse group of era- and genre-spanning tunesmiths, from Mac Davis (Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers) to Linda Perry (Gwen Stefani, P!nk). He’s written hits for international chart-toppers including Macklemore and BTS and found success in theatre co-writing songs for award-winning French musicals Robin des Bois and Les Trois Mousquetaires.
This lifetime of multifaceted musical experience is palpable throughout Funland. It’s a quietly audacious album equally comfortable with the heady creative wanderlust of Kate Bush and David Bowie or the earthy songcraft of Bruce Springsteen. Throughout, it’s Girelli’s uniquely nuanced, falsetto-tipped timbre that seals the record’s lasting and electrifying connection.
“I’ve always let the voice kind of lead the way in a song,” he explained. “As a writer, I like to try and tie music up like a collection of songs in a concept or in a moment. Each album almost has its own little planet that I exist in.”
Funland’s first single, the up-tempo “Fun,” explores the sense of impending doom that can hang over a casual relationship. “Everything’s fun until somebody gets hurt,” said Girelli. “You’re almost afraid to take the next step.” Contemplative, keys-caressed follow-up “From 7th Street With Love” delivers an aching ode to a NYC lifestyle Girelli pined for while writing the record.
“Here Comes My Baby,” released in January, evokes Radiohead’s more woozy moments between moody guitar motifs as it finds comfort in a lover’s arms. Due in February, fourth single “Do You Wanna Dance” shifts the mood once again, shimmying through a sparkly antidote to lockdown’s stark solitude. “I imagine this scene in a Studio 54-esque place,” said Girelli. “Just escaping with somebody somewhere to get up to no good.”
A wistful late-night aura pervades Funland’s broad emotional and stylistic bandwidth, from the elegant disco of “Right Time” and the Americana-flecked title track, to Broadway-ready torch song “Midnight Flowers.” Echoing the legendary lyricism of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, the record wryly navigates the endless questions of humanity’s current condition with an almost overnight sense of nostalgia for a world condemned, for now at least, to memory.
“It doesn’t take itself too seriously,” mulled Girelli. “Some of the lyrics are a little tongue-in-cheek. Sonically, it sits in the world I usually end up in, which is quite rich, wide, and bold.
Funland is poised to further cement Coyle Girelli’s global presence as an influential composer and compelling solo performer.